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About Community Advisors

Find information about advising a student organization at UC San Diego.

Student organizations can choose an advisor from within or outside the UCSD community. Advisors enjoy many benefits, including:

  • Getting the satisfaction of seeing and helping students learn and develop new skills
  • Helping a diverse group come together to share interests and work toward common goals
  • Developing personal relationships with students
  • Advising an organization that furthers your own personal goals or interests
  • Sharing your knowledge with others

If you're considering becoming a Community Advisor, review the following information:

The Center for Student Involvement invites all Community Advisors to an annual Community Advisor Reception to celebrate your work with our student organizations and to share tips and ask questions on how to better serve your students.

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Community advisor expectations

The roles and functions of a student organization advisor include:

Meet University expectations of advisors.

  • Attend committee meetings.
  • Provide a link between students and the University.
  • Interpret policy and take appropriate positions on delicate issues.

Meet your group's expectations of an advisor.

  • Meet with your group to determine expectations.
  • Attend and participate in programs.
  • Hold individual meetings with executive members.
  • Serve as a resource person.
  • Provide group dynamics training.
  • Be familiar with the group's history of highs and lows.

Know administrative detail.

  • Be familiar with the politics and procedures of the organization and institution.
  • Understand budget and expenditures.

Demonstrate advisor qualities and behaviors.

  • Know about group process theory and leadership.
  • Establish good working relationships and rapport with the group.
  • Be tactful and honest.
  • Provide effective feedback.
  • Enthusiastically support the group.
  • Admit to a mistake – be human.
  • Maximize information resources. Lack of information can be non-productive.
  • Choose the most productive time to comment at group meetings.
  • Be aware of the power of positive reinforcement.
  • Allow the group to learn from failure.
  • Observe, advise, and be aware of group dynamics; take notes and discuss with students and colleagues.

Community advisor responsibilities

The specific roles and responsibilities of an advisor vary depending on the organization and the advisor, but most student organization advisors have the following responsibilities:

Leadership development

Through personal interaction and program development, you can play a significant role in developing members' leadership skills and personal growth and in identifying new leaders for the organization. Specific skills you could enhance include:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Assisting with retreats and workshops

Consultation

You can serve as a consultant by:

  • Meeting regularly with officers and chairpersons to keep current on projects and events they're planning.
  • Serving as a resource person and, through continued open interaction, pointing out new perspectives and guiding the group toward activities and individual performance.

Continuity

Officers and members change frequently, and at times the only link with the past is the advisor. To enhance continuity, you can:

  • Orient new officers and members to the history and purpose of the group and help them build upon it.
  • Help members look toward the future by developing long-term goals and communicating them to new members.
  • Be wary if the organization focuses on "this is the way things have always been." Encourage creative brainstorming to help an organization generate new ideas.

Personal assistance

Your interaction with members gives you a unique opportunity to assist individuals with problems:

  • Help students maintain a balance between academic and co-curricular aspects of student life.
  • Make appropriate referrals by using your knowledge of campus and community resources.

Interpretations of policy

As a representative of the University to the organization, you are constantly in a position to interpret University policies and regulations as well as state and federal laws relevant to student organizations. One example is the Clery Act and Crime Reporting, a federal law that requires institutions of higher education to report crimes, provide notice of security policies, and give finely warnings.

You should also be familiar with all organization policies, such as constitution, bylaws, and protocols.

Supervision

You have a responsibility to both the University and the organization to keep the best interests of both in mind. In a well run organization, the supervisory role may be minimal or nonexistent, and the advisor may need to intervene only to prevent the violation of public or institutional policy.

Financial supervision

Each organization should have a treasurer/finance director. Work with this individual to assure accurate record keeping and budgeting.

Meeting organization

Attend all regular and special meetings of the organization to keep informed and be available for consultation or to introduce ideas and suggestions. Many advisors have a time slot on meeting agendas when they can let the group know about upcoming campus events, congratulate members, offer remarks or evaluation, etc.

Traits of a community advisor

Teacher and educator

  • Advisors use expertise, knowledge, and human relations skills to help teach students effectively.
  • Advisors teach in an informal classroom setting where attendance is voluntary.

Resource person

  • Advisors gain a great deal of experience over time, which becomes extremely valuable to an organization.
  • Some of the dimensions of a resource person include:
    • Knowledge of University policies and services
    • The ability to find pertinent information
    • A historical perspective

Coordinator and motivator

  • This role is close to that of a resource person and teacher but is more action oriented. The advisor:
    • Acts as a motivator and overseer for the organization
    • Provides direction and communication that keep the group moving toward its goal

Partner and friend

  • This advisor trait is perhaps the easiest trait to fulfill. The advisor can:
    • Provide students with an opportunity to vent their frustrations
    • Become a friend and mentor to student volunteers

Counselor

  • This role is designed to handle the most basic counseling needs.
  • Listen to students' issues and offer suggestions.
  • If serious problems arise, refer students to Counseling and Psychological Services.

Other advisor traits

  • Accessible
  • Always prepared
  • Consistent
  • Creative
  • Empathetic
  • Energetic
  • Flexible
  • Good listener
  • Good communicator
  • Insightful
  • Keen observer
  • Objective
  • Patient
  • Sense of humor
  • Trustworthy

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